Johnson & Johnson has announced it will no longer sell its popular talcum-based baby powders in the United States and Canada. The decision follows an onslaught of successful lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson in which the company was ordered to pay billions of dollars in damages for talcum-related cancers.
According to NPR, Johnson & Johnson announced their decision to discontinue sells of talc-based baby powders on Tuesday. In a statement, the company blamed declining demand “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
However, separate investigations by Reuters and the New York Times in December 2018 suggest Johnson & Johnson had concerns that their may be small amounts of asbestos in its baby powder stretching back decades. Asbestos is a known carcinogen.
According to the Reuters report, Johnson and Johnson’s raw talc and finished powders would sometime test positive for small amounts of asbestos. Positive tests existed as far back as 1971 and at least until the early 2000s.
Further Reuters reported that “company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators and the public.”
Johnson and Johnson fired back saying these kinds of reports as being “false and inflammatory.”
In 2018, a St. Louis jury found Johnson & Johnson responsible for the ovarian cancer of 22 women. The company was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to the women and their families. More recently, a 2019 verdict from California had the company paying $29 million to a woman who developed mesothelioma while using Johnson & Johnson baby powder.
In all, Johnson & Johnson faces more than 16,000 talc-related lawsuits in the United States alone.
Talcum Powder (Talc) containing asbestos is recognized as a carcinogen by multiple institutes, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer; however, Johnson & Johnson claims modern talc products (from the 1973 on) no longer carry asbestos.
This has not, however, prevented new cases in which women have developed ovarian cancer after using talc products manufactured well after the 1973 removal of asbestos. More alarming, talc fibers are often found in the cancerous tissue following diagnosis.
Still, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), which is made up by parts of the CDC, FDA, and NIH, has not fully reviewed talc (with or without asbestos) as a possible carcinogen.
There are currently two class-actions claiming ovarian cancer in connection with talcum powder products. Both were filed against J&J in 2014 and cover Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. In February 2016, a family was awarded $72 million for the ovarian cancer and resulting death of a woman who had used Johnson & Johnson talcum products.
According to Harvard epidemiologist, Dr. Daniel Cramer, talcum powder results in as many as 10,000 women developing ovarian cancer every year. Other studies suggest exposure to talcum powder can increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer by 30 to 45 percent
If you believe you believe exposure to talcum powder has contributed to a serious injury or illness, contact Thomas J. Henry. Defective product lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim. Our firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Austin, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Call us today for a free legal consultation.